Eddie Jones is excited to put a new-look England forward pack to work against South Africa on Saturday.


England have several forwards out injured for their first November international, with Chris Robshaw, Billy and Mako Vunipola, Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes among the absentees.

There are consequently opportunities for Alec Hepburn, George Kruis and Jack Nowell in the Twickenham Test, but Jones is confident that the new shape to his team can be a positive against the Springboks.

“We’re really excited. As we saw with Japan against South Africa, you don’t have to have the biggest players in the world,” Jones told Sky Sports.

“It’s different for England – we normally have a big forward pack – but we have got a smaller, inexperienced forward pack. They can’t wait to get out there.

“It’s exciting. We’ve got a different team and we’ve had a great week’s preparation. We can’t wait to get out there.”

He added: “We had to dig fairly deep given the number of people unavailable. I think we’ve lost in excess of 400 caps – the forward pack is probably the most inexperienced forward pack we’ve put out.”


Jones has taken a risk with Ben Te’o, who has been out of action with Worcester Warriors, but he sees the 31-year-old having a key role in November alongside Manu Tuilagi – back involved on the bench – due to the changes elsewhere in the side.

“I just find that some experienced players, having played a high number of high level games in both rugby and rugby league, come around quicker,” the coach said.

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“[Te’o] has had a good preparation, a couple of good days of training, and he’s got through that pretty well. I’m pretty convinced he can handle a Test match.

“We’re just bringing [Tuilagi] through nice and slowly. He’s had a long time out of rugby. He’s back playing for his club, we just feel that, for his first game back, he’s better coming off the bench.

“He can find his feet a bit and then, after that, we’ll see. It’s about the balance of what we have in the forwards.

“Missing the Vunipola’s, Launchbury and Lawes means that the forward pack doesn’t have the ball-carrying force that we normally have. We have to find that in a different way.”

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